In the shoes of others

I find myself a lot with people insisting that I'm British, and insisting that I am not Irish

- Well, I'm from the North of Ireland, and for a lot of people, not from UK, let's say, might not understand the background of being from the North of Ireland and how although the North of Ireland is technically in the UK, there is a massive population of people who would still consider themselves Irish. I live in London where I find myself a lot with people insisting that I'm British, and insisting that I am not Irish, whereas I am Irish and I have a right to vote here, I have an Irish passport, I have the right to be Irish and have an Irish identity. And that's one thing that always bothers me because a lot of people always feel they have the right to tell me what I am, which I consider the equivalent of a trans person being told that they are not the gender that they identify as.

- Why do you think there's this confusion?

- For me, personally, I think it's a lack of education. And I think it is perhaps a brief sort of education on the subject, because for a lot of people, they will learn that Northern Ireland is in United Kingdom and that's it.

- I see... it can also be confusing for some, like, as a foreigner, it's something I've only realized when visiting Northern Ireland and Ireland during the same trip, and before that I was frankly clueless about the differences between the UK, British Isles, Great Britain, Ireland, Northern Ireland, ...

- Yeah, well, I don't get too bothered by it, because I am always understanding that it is just a lack of education, and I'm not saying that everyone from the North of Ireland has to identify as Irish. But I think that when someone tells you that they are something, you should just accept it. You shouldn't think that you're in this position to tell people what they are, you know, and that goes for anything. Not just me, that goes for anybody.

- Yes! What are the main differences you see between Northern Ireland and Ireland, like, is it very different even?

- I don't think so. I mean, of course, the North of Ireland being in the United Kingdom, of course we have the NHS and we have different things that in the south of Ireland they don't have, we use a different currency, there's a different range of accents, and so on... but really, when I cross the "border" (I'm doing finger quotes, but you can't see because you're recording!), the differences are small. Road signs are different, and currency is different and the products that you have in shops might be a bit different, but I consider myself to be on the same island and in the same country, actually.

- And when you visit Dublin or Belfast, people will be just as friendly with you?

- Absolutely, yeah!

- Okay. When did you first notice that sort of... confusion, I guess?

- I moved to London three years ago and for me, I definitely started to experience it when I worked in hospitality. Constantly, because of my accent, I'll have people asking where I'm from. And I always get the « Oh, is that real Ireland or? », and for me, that's offensive, because to me, I'm from Ireland. What does "real Ireland" mean to you? You know... and I do often get people telling me « No, you're not from Ireland ». And that's mind boggling to me because like, I think I know where I'm from. After 23 years, I mean...

#ireland #northernireland #northofireland #irish #people #unitedkingdom #london #education #currency #visit #belfast #uk #accent #confusion #identify #identity #greatbritain #background

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